Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category« Older Entries ·
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
It’s no secret that our current world is moving at a rapid pace. It’s almost dizzying. Keeping up your knowledge and skill has never been more important than it is today. That said, it’s never been easier to keep yourself abreast of the latest technology, practice and trends that you need to know to keep yourself relevant as a designer.
Here’s a strategy to stay relevant as a designer:
Sharpen your skills
The first and foremost way to staying relevant as a designer is to sharpen your design skills. Letting your abilities lay dormant will only cause them do die. Constantly attempt to improve your skills by creating things for yourself, organizations you are involved with or by doing tutorials. You will never get to a point where you are done learning about your craft. Practice it regularly.
Read quality design blogs
There is a wealth of information out there and it’s being updated regularly. Subscribe to some top blogs and read them regularly. Study what the experts are saying and implement some of their useful ideas into your work. Keeping on top of what the experts in the design community are saying is key.
Take time to get inspired by the work of others
Having a steady flow of inspiration can be a healthy thing for a designer. It helps you to see what’s possible what is working and what isn’t working. Moderation is key when looking for inspiration. You can easily get trapped into looking at other peoples work for hours and hours without creating anything yourself. Set aside a specific time in the week to see what others in the industry are making and take notes. Then, go and take what you’ve learned and implement it—putting your own spin on things.
Create side projects
Having side projects is a great way to experiment with new techniques and to challenge yourself. You can take on a variety of different projects that will help you hone your skills.
- Create an app
- Design a WordPress theme
- Do pro-bono work
- Create apparel
There are endless site projects that can both fulfill a creative outlet and possibly bring in some extra cash. Start something up today.
Read at least one design book a month
There are many many amazing design books available today. Reading one a month will help you acquire a deeper understanding of design theory and principles. Having this understanding will make you a better problem solver and better able to articulate your decision making to clients or other team members.
Read at least one non-design book a month
Becoming a well-rounded person is part and parcel to becoming a relevant designer. There is a temptation to obsess over design and design related literature. However, reading books outside of your main area of expertise is essential in becoming a professional. Dedicate yourself to reading at least one non-design non-fiction book every month. Doing so will help you to have more understanding of the world around you, making you into a multi-dimensional, more interesting person. This will only help you in your professional career.
What are you doing to improve your skills and personal development as a designer?
Tags: design training, improve your design skills, personal development, professional development, stay relevant as a designer, Web Design, website design
Posted in Best Practices, Graphic Design, Web Design · No Comments »
Friday, March 9th, 2012
Most everyone interacts with some form of web design in one way or another throughout the day. For the most part, though, we as consumers of online content, don’t appreciate what good web design does for us. Design usually takes a back seat in the minds of users, as it rightfully should. However, sometimes it’s good to review why design is so essential to our daily lives online.
1. Good Web Design Keeps Things Organized
Our world is full of chaos. In our personal and professional lives. Events, products, relationships, people, papers and all sorts of things are constantly flying in and out of our lives. The same is true with a website or app. Data is flying all over the place. Design helps to take the chaos and make sense of it—make it useable. (more…)
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
In business, you’re concerned mainly with one thing: make money. That’s pretty much it. Of course, there are other things, like developing relationships, a sense of accomplishment and charting your own course. But, at the end of the day, you just want to make money. The more, the better!
How can design help us do just that—make more money?
Design can and does help businesses around the world make MUCH more money than they might have otherwise. Apple is a great example. It’s an overused example, but still a great one. What Apple did by focusing on design revolutionized not only their company, but the world. Steve Jobs is famous for saying,
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
That phrase sums it up nicely. Weather it’s a website, a car or an iMac, design helps to engage the user, create an emotional response, and guide the user as to what to do.
What does this mean for business on the web? It means that paying attention to the design of your site or app can be a tremendous help in your quest for profitability. The truth is, attractive people sell more, so do attractive websites. Attractive is just the start though. Design facilitates the user in taking an action after first convincing them that the site is trustworthy and relevant.
- Design can communicate directly to the needs and desires of your audience.
- Design can connect them to the products and services that you provide them.
- Design can build trust.
- Design can increase the number of clicks you get on your web ad
- Design can increase the number of subscribers you have
- Design can keep people on your page for a longer period of time
Now take this list and switch it to negatives. Bad design, or not enough attention to design, can have a negative impact on all of these things. There’s a good example here. They redesigned the web ads and got 35% more traffic. That’s a big deal.
Design is more than making things look pretty, although that’s part of it. Design makes things work, and work well. Investing in design is always a good decision. When your product, website, marketing materials or even your business card work well, you can make more money.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
There are some go-to ways that a designer can solve any given design problem. In fact, it’s rather easy, sometimes, to go into robot mode and whip up a cookie cutter solution. It is particularly tempting to “bust something out” when faced with a familiar problem. A better way to approach projects is to do it thoughtfully. (more…)
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
These days, most people don’t get their basic business documents like newsletters and flyers designed by professionals. Most of the time small businesses use a word processor to publish documents in-house. Just because these documents are homemade, doesn’t mean they have to look that way. Here are some basic typography tips on getting your home published documents to look a little more professional.
1. Use no more than two fonts
This is a rule that I see broken all of the time in self-published newsletters, brochures, flyers, etc. Many people feel that using many different fonts in a document will give it some flare and liven it up a bit. Or, they may think that using an abundance of different fonts will help communicate the message of a certain section of the document better. I can understand this thinking. But, unfortunately, (more…)
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
For the majority of freelance designers and design firms the rise of crowdsourcing is quite unsettling. The growing demand for cheap commoditized design is growing and severely undercutting the industry. This article on Sixrevisions got me thinking about this issue and how it relates to my business and other designers in my position. While I’m not going to write on the evils or merits of the crowdsourcing trend, I do want to share some thoughts that I had while thinking about my own business and what I need to do to compete.
1. Face Reality
Sometimes, truth hurts, but, it’s best to face it head on. The fact is, crowdsourcing is not going away anytime soon. From the business side of things I can see why it is gaining steam: low cost & choice. This is very appealing to small businesses with tight budgets, especially in lean times. For this reason, I think that this segment of the industry is going to be around for a long time. That’s the reality. Accepting this, I think, is the first step to readjusting to the new reality marketplace. Whining about it wont help anything.
2. Focus on Your Value Proposition
We all know that this is important in any kind of business. It’s what sets you apart from the rest of your competitors. It is what keeps your clients coming to you again, and again. Now, more than ever, it’s time to refine and refocus your value proposition. What makes your business unique? What value can you bring that the crowdsourcing sites cannot bring? Why is that worth the cost? These are questions that I am currently sorting out again in my own business. It can be a difficult task, but well worth it in the end.
3. Focus on Client Relationships
One of the huge negatives of croudsourcing is the lack of relationship between the designer and the client. As you probably already know, business is ALL about relationship. Why do I go pay double to get my haircut by my hairdresser rather than go to supercuts? Because I like my hairdresser, she’s nice. She gets me a cup of coffee (good coffee, not some instant crap) when I go to get my haircut. She asks me about what’s going on in my personal life and takes an interest. This is all pretty basic stuff. But it keeps me going back. Why would I go somewhere else? Even if she raised her rates, I wouldn’t even think of not going to her. Focusing on building quality relationships with clients that go beyond just the work that’s being done can add tremendous value to your services. Raise the bar. Care more. Remember the little things. This crowdsourcing cannot compete with.
4. Expand Your Skill Set
You’ve heard the term “Jack of all trades, master of none” before I’m sure. In this day and age, however, I think it’s to the designer’s advantage to know a bit of everything. Specialize in something, for sure, but don’t plateau. Expand your skill set to accommodate your client’s future needs. It may mean branching out into UX design, or learning a new scripting language. These things can make you more valuable to clients. If you’ve already formed a strong relationship with them they will be coming to you to solve their problem. It would be a shame to turn them away because what they need is not in your skill set.
5. Don’t Give Up
There will always be Walmart, and there will always be Neiman Marcus, and there will always be a market for both. I see this time as an opportunity to contrast my strengths with crowdsourcing’s weaknesses. I’m embracing the market reality, telling people about the real value of my services, taking excellent care of my clients, and adding more skills to my skill set. This is how I plan to compete.
How about you? Do you have plans on how you are going to compete? Or is crowdsourcing a non-issue to you? I’d love to hear what you think.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
I’m always on the lookout for well designed websites. I love seeing the innovation that talented web designers bring to their projects. It’s both inspiring and motivating. Every week, I’ll be posting an article that features a favorite site that I’ve discovered. I’ll breakdown what I like about it and why. I hope that these articles will inspire you.
This weeks pick: David Fooks
David Fooks has done well with his little portfolio site. He keeps it minimal, but maintains interest throughout the site.
Saturday, May 15th, 2010
A couple of places around the web have been going on a bit about how many design blogs are pumping out tons of list post just to drive traffic to their site. The argument is that these types of posts are short-sighted and don’t offer the readers anything to be really loyal to. (more…)
Monday, May 10th, 2010
There are templates for everything it seems these days. From website templates, WordPress templates, business card templates, what have you. Designing these types of templates can prove to be a profitable stream of passive income for a talented and dedicated designer. And while I don’t have a problem with templates in and of themselves, I do, however, have a problem with how they are used. Sometimes.
Templates serve a need, to be sure. The need, usually, is to quickly get a decent looking site/blog whatever up with minimal thought,planning, or budget. For people on a short timeline and a shoestring budget I can see how using a template can be an attractive option. For these website owners templates serve an immediate need and I think that this use is completely valid. (more…)
Friday, April 16th, 2010
I’ve been seeing a lot of articles being published these days on whether or not to use a graphics program, like Photoshop or Fireworks, to design mockup of a website. The new trend seems to be going towards designing in browser using mostly markup and skipping Photoshop all together. There have been lots of great articles written by some really good designers who subscribe to this technique (This one is especially good). (more…)